Port Melbourne is an inner suburb of Melbourne, Australia, 3 km south-west from the Melbourne central business district.
- Area:9.57 km2
- Elevation:6 m
- Local Government Area:Port Phillip City Council
Port Melbourne is an inner suburb of Melbourne, Australia, 3 km south-west from the Melbourne central business district.It is split between the local government areas of Melbourne and Port Phillip. The area to the north of the West Gate Freeway is in the City of Melbourne. The area to the south is in the City of Port Phillip. At the 2016 Census, Port Melbourne had a population of 16,175.The suburb is bordered by the shores of Hobsons Bay and the lower reaches of the Yarra River. Port Melbourne covers a large area, which includes the distinct localities of Fishermans Bend, Garden City and Beacon Cove.
Historically it was known as Sandridge and developed as the city's second port, linked to the nearby Melbourne CBD.
The formerly industrial Port Melbourne has been subject to intense urban renewal over the past three decades. As a result, Port Melbourne is a diverse and historic area, featuring industrial and port areas along the Yarra, to open parklands, bayside beaches, exclusive apartments and Bay Street's restaurants and cafes. The suburb also forms a major transport link from east to west, home to one end of the West Gate Bridge.
The most prominent early resident of the area, now known as Port Melbourne, was Captain Wilbraham Frederick Evelyn Liardet, who arrived in 1839, and established a hotel, jetty, and mail service. Liardet later stated that before his arrival the surveyor William Wedge Darke and his family had camped on the beach in their two roomed, carpeted wooden caravan known as 'Darke's Ark'. Liardet credited Wedge with cutting the first track to the beach through the tea tree scrub and hoisting a barrel on a pole, on a high section of ground, to point the way back to the Melbourne settlement. From this signpost its first official name, 'Sandridge', was said to have originated. The area also became commonly known as 'Liardet's Beach' but Liardet himself was said to have preferred 'Brighton'. It became Port Melbourne in 1884.
The area came into prominence during the Victorian gold rush of the 1850s. With an increasing number of ships looking to berth, Sandridge became a thriving transport hub. To alleviate the high costs of shipping goods via small vessels up the Yarra River to Melbourne the Port Melbourne railway line was built in 1854 to connect Sandridge to Melbourne. The disused Sandridge Bridge takes its name from this historic railway line.
In 1860, Port Melbourne was an early area of Victoria to gain Municipal status, with the Sandridge Borough, which later became the City of Port Melbourne.
In the early years of Port Melbourne, the suburb was separated from neighboring Albert Park by a large shallow lagoon. This was gradually filled in over the years, with the last of it completed in 1929. Today, the area is largely covered by the eponymous Lagoon Reserve, a public park to the east of the Esplanade, between Liardet Street and Graham Street, although the original extent of the lagoon was much greater.
As a transport hub, Port Melbourne had numerous hotels. Early industries included a sugar refining, soap production, candle works, chemical works, rice and flour mills, gasworks, a distillery and a boot factory. Station and Princes Piers were major places of arrival to Australia for immigrants prior to the availability of affordable air travel.
For many years Port Melbourne was a focus of Melbourne's criminal underworld, which operated smuggling syndicates on the docks. The old Ships Painters and Dockers Union was notorious for being controlled by gangsters. The Waterside Workers Federation, on the other hand, was a stronghold of the Communist Party of Australia.
With the amalgamation of the local Council into the City of Port Phillip in 1994, many of Port Melbourne's civic institutions were adaptively reused. As a result, the Port Melbourne Town Hall is now a public library.
As the importance of the Port has declined, and as manufacturing industries have moved out of the inner city area, Port Melbourne has increasingly become a residential suburb. The area where Port Melbourne originally developed, around Station Pier and Princes Pier, has been redeveloped with a mixture of apartment complexes and medium-density housing, the best known of which is the Beacon Cove development.
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